Sister Chrysantha Eva Chrunik, SSMI
1917 — 2013
Sister Chrysantha, a member of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, died in Holy Family Home, Winnipeg, MB on September 19, 2013.
Eva (Sister Chrysantha) was born on February 22, 1917, in West Bend, SK and baptised in the Patronage of Our Lady Church at Model Farm, SK. She was the fifth of eleven children born to her parents, Panteleimon (Panko) and Pelagia (Domshy), who had emigrated to the West Bend district from Western Ukraine at the beginning of this century.
The Chrunik family lived an exemplary Christian life, having helped to found a parish at Model Farm in 1908. It is obvious that they greatly treasured a calling to religious life in their family, since the family was blessed with three vocations: daughters Mary (Sister Alphonse), Anne (Sister Bernarda) and Eva (Ewdokia) (Sister Chrysantha) became Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, each offering the Lord their unique gifts in selfless service for His glory.
When Eva was two years old she became seriously ill, diagnosed with meningitis. Her recovery seemed hopeless and thus the parents began to make funeral preparations. But miraculously, she regained her health. Only at the time of her perpetual vows did Sister Chrysantha discover the “secret” of her unexpected recovery. It was then that her parents told her that they had made a solemn promise to God, that if she would live, they would offer her for His exclusive service. However, they never put any pressure on her, nor even encouraged her to be religious. Instead they fervently prayed to the Lord that she would receive the gift of a vocation to the Sisters Servants and follow in the footsteps of her two older sisters.
Eva attended Coleraine School in West Bend and Sacred Heart Institute in Yorkton.
She entered the Novitiate of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate in Mundare on August 25, 1936. Sister Chrysantha made first profession of vows on February 25, 1939, and final profession, August 15, 1945 in St. Mary’s Church in Yorkton, SK in the presence of her parents and other family members.
Sister Chrysantha furthered her education in Winnipeg, attending Teachers’ College and St. Mary’s Academy, where she took a commercial course.
In her 78 years as a Sister Servant, Sister Chrysantha generously served her religious community, church and people, mainly in the teaching apostolate. From profession of First Vows to her Final Profession in 1945, she was missioned to Winnipeg and later to Toronto, where she taught children in various parishes Religion and Ukrainian, and helped with domestic duties. After teaching religion, typing and shorthand in Sacred Heart Academy in Yorkton for four years, she was missioned to Montreal, where she began her beloved apostolate from then on, teaching primary grades.
After teaching in a parochial school for two years in Detroit, MI, she was missioned to St. Nicholas School (later named “Immaculate Heart of Mary School”) in Winnipeg, where she taught for fifteen years. Then in 1971, Sister Chrysantha taught for a year in Holy Spirit School in Hamilton, ON. From 1972 to her superannuation in 1991, she returned to Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Winnipeg, teaching grade two until 1978, and then kindergarten until her retirement. The school registers of St. Nicholas/Immaculate Heart of Mary School indicate that Sister Chrysantha taught over 750 children.
Sister Chrysantha celebrated her Golden Jubilee as a Sister Servant in 1986. A Jubilee Committee consisting of her former students honoured her with a testimonial banquet in Winnipeg and established a “Sister Chrysantha Bursary Fund” to be used for the benefit of needy students. Since this time, many students have furthered their religious and cultural education, thanks to these bursaries.
Throughout these years she also taught children religion and conducted Ukrainian School during the school year and the summer months. She prepared countless children for First Holy Communion, including the grandchildren of her students!
She was also missioned for shorter periods of time at the following SSMI missions: Saskatoon, Mundare - Convent and Hospital, Winnipeg. In her younger years, she taught catechism in the summer months in British Columbia - Prince George and Kamloops, Alberta - Derwent, Skaro, Glendon and Iron River.
From 2009 she continued her mission in Holy Family Home in Winnipeg, an apostolate of prayer, offering her sufferings and greeting all with a welcoming smile.
Of relatively small and humble stature, Sister Chrysantha deeply touched the hearts and lives of many throughout her lifetime as a devoted teacher and catechist. Her gentle and genuine caring manner and her creativity in the classroom endeared her to teaching colleagues, students, their parents and parishioners.
Her life of prayer, her faithfulness to the Lord and her loving devotion to the Mother of God sustained her in times of difficulty and pain. She accepted with love and patience the infirmities of aging. One of the Sisters who knew her well observed that “if Sister Chrysantha has trouble with her feet at this time, could it be because she tried to walk in the shoes of so many others.” Hers was a joyful spirit, ready to lighten the burden of others and to share with them God’s love and compassion, which she so powerfully experienced in her own life.
As a younger Sister Servant, she was compassionate and reached out to the elderly Sisters with whom she lived, recognizing their needs and attending to them with a smile.
Sister Chrysantha was predeceased by her parents, brothers John, Constantine, Joseph and sisters Sister Alphonse, Sister Bernarda, Justine, Alice, Antoinette, Agatha and Helen.
She is survived by numerous nieces and nephews with their families.
The Sisters are grateful to the Staff on Sacred Heart Unit at Holy Family Home for the tender compassionate care they gave Sr. Chrysantha and for the beautiful relationships that developed between her and her caregivers.
Sr. Chrysantha had a great love for Immaculate Heart School. Her wishes were that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the School’s “MOVE THE SPIRIT” Campaign.